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Anti Virus Programs

Background, Program Review

There have been found so many vulnerabilities today that traditional anti virus programs have had to include catching more kinds of critters. So to some degree there has been some morphing and merging of terms about what a virus is or a Trojan is. So first we shall discuss some of the forms of viruses.

Traditionally, viruses were carried around on floppy disks. The object of most of these programs were to be destructive – destroy data, format hard drives and the such. With the advent of internet and email, another kind of virus came about which is really more of a “worm” – that is a program which mainly wants to propagate itself – sending out copies of itself. Of course, while the virus is on your pc it is fouling your pc’s operation up, eliminating system files or antivirus files and hogging system performance. And this is not to say all virus are of the Worm variety. There are certainly the destructive kind. Magistrate will overwrite the data on your hard drive if you leave it on for a set number of days (usually 30), and other viruses like My Doom or even the battling viruses Netsky and Beagle/Bagle will delete important data files. In the worst of cases you can lose your data and need to reinstall Windows – so these viri are important to guard against.

So what is a Trojan? In the old days they were fairly specialized yet simple programs which were loaded on your pc (usually by a poor choice of double clicking an


attachment) and which set up a server on your pc. An outsider could then use your pc remotely. Examples are Netbus, Subseven and Backorifice. Nowadays, the term trojan is bandied about by anti-virus firms to describe almost anything put on your pc without your permission.

And thus, much of spyware and adware are described as Trojans. Some of those programs capture keystroke by keystroke what you are typing while others merely monitor your web surfing so they can show you pertinent ads. Others will hyperlink words in web browser and some will replace legitimate search results that you get from Yahoo and other search engines.

By the way, before we leave the general discussion, it needs to be pointed out that other areas of entry for threats are Instant Messaging, filesharing networks, and deceptive websites with malicious code on them.

Please note: the Anti Virus programs are not really up to speed on spyware/adware. Getting better, perhaps, but their forte is still viruses with simpler intrusions with large outbreaks reported all at once. For the foreseeable future, one shall have to have a two pronged approach to protecting and/or dealing with viruses and spyware/adware. Thus programs from our Spyware/Adware page will be useful.

Anti Virus Progams

We'll have more to say on these in a bit, including the different released versions. For our specific reviews, please refer to our Antivirus Overview page. Please note that Norton and McAfee push packages which include firewall functions, which aren't really needed for people behind a router. Theoretically a firewall program could catch some rogue programs phoning home, but usually it is too hard for most people to tell what is legitimate or not. And if a rogue problem is detectable by a firewall, then it ought to be detectable by regular Anti Virus or Anti Spy/Ad Ware programs as well.

Norton Antivirus


Trend PC-cillin

Free Programs


Fsecure’s Dos product

Avast Home


(Note - this product does not live in your system's memory for real time protection, but it can be useful to scan once a week or perhaps after an outbreak.)

Mini AntiVirus Testers - Download these to scan for the "top 40" viruses


Stinger, from McAfee


Online Scanners - just go to their website and scan your pc

Trend's Housecall (or go to and follow the links for housecall)